Ducks Radio Analyst
CALGARY, Alberta – While all of Canada is on pins and needles regarding the status of Ryan Getzlaf
for the Winter Olympic hockey competition that begins next week in Vancouver, the Ducks are far more concerned with their top-line center’s availability for two key games this weekend.
“He’s better today than he was yesterday,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said after Getzlaf tested his sprained left ankle by going through a portion of the team’s Friday afternoon practice at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
“I would suggest that if things continue to improve, he could be available to our hockey club,” Carlyle said. “I don’t know if that’s tomorrow or Sunday.”
The Ducks, who have gone 13-5 since Jan. 5 to climb within two points of the eighth and final Stanley Cup playoff position in the NHL’s Western Conference, visit the eighth-place Calgary Flames on Saturday night. A late-afternoon Sunday contest against the Edmonton Oilers completes the Ducks’ pre-Olympic portion of schedule.
Getzlaf, who suffered the ankle injury Monday night in a 4-2 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Kings and missed Wednesday’s 3-2 triumph over the Oilers at Honda Center, skated for 23 minutes at the outset of Friday’s practice.
“It felt a lot better than yesterday,” said Getzlaf, who was on the ice for only about five minutes Thursday at Honda Center. “I’m definitely at the point where I want to be in the lineup for at least one of these two games. Yesterday, a lot was pretty painful. Today, I was able to get through a lot of stuff.”
After seeing what response there is overnight, Getzlaf is likely to test the ankle again during Saturday’s morning skate. While he didn’t rule out facing the Flames, Sunday’s contest in Edmonton would appear to be a more likely target.
“We’ll see how tomorrow goes,” Getzlaf said. “That is the big test. We’ll see how it reacts after I pushed it today.”
Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman, meanwhile, is monitoring Getzlaf’s progress closely. The final Olympic rosters must be submitted Monday night, and Jeff Carter of the Philadelphia Flyers has reportedly been placed on standby to join Team Canada if Getzlaf is not healthy enough to play.
Getzlaf has been in daily contact with Yzerman.
“He’s made it clear the spot is mine as of now,” Getzlaf said. “At the same time, I have to be honest with him, too. It’s not easy. It’s obviously going to be one of the toughest decisions I’m going to have to make. Obviously, I would love 100 percent to go play for Canada.”
If Getzlaf is not able to play this weekend, that would not necessarily force him out of the Olympics.
“It would probably be more up to (Yzerman) at that point,” Getzlaf said.
Carlyle, naturally, is focused on the Ducks and their playoff push.
“We’re selfish,” Carlyle said. “That’s the way we have to be. The most important game of the year is against the Calgary Flames tomorrow night.
“We’d love to have (Getzlaf) in our lineup. Ultimately, the player has to feel confident that he can go out and perform. If he can’t play, he can’t play.”